My Dilemma

Alcoholics and Addicts in 12 Step Programs sharing their personal recovery stories with hope to help others who alcoholics and addicts who want to recover using the 12 Steps.
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:42 pm

Postby Anja » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:46 pm

I understand that.

Mom was abusive and neglectful while I was growing up. I hated here. When I got sober I did a lot of self-help and therapy in my thirties and learned how to have an adult relationship with her. When I set boundaries with love she slowly began to change the way she interacted with me. Today we are companions.

I sent her to treatment in the Eighties and tried to confront her behavior toward me. She disassociated during the group. For years I thought I had to have that resolution in order to be at peace with her. Time has proven that to be untrue.

At that point all I wanted was for her to change. And for her to admit her guilt. It really was all about me still.

Sounds like you've learned that as well. Once we've cleaned up our side of the fence it doesn't matter so much anymore what used to be. Someone told me I'd never achieve a recovery of the abuse until I learned how to forgive her. The thought was preposterous to me. She did the unforgiveable! She warped my childhood!

Over time I have learned that forgiveness was my only answer.

I can't argue with others who prefer to carry the resentment. Many react to the idea of forgiveness in the same way I did. You don't get there until you get there. But it has worked well for me. Time and willingness were the key.

And, having helped my dad die, this time around isn't as fearful. I've been enjoying our final times together and try to focus on the positive. Her pain is the toughest thing I have to watch so far. My hopes are that I can lay her to rest in the best possible way for both of us.

I feel good that I can be with her. How lucky is that! And a long time ago when I started my quest to heal this relationship for serenity's sake I became determined that I. would. not. allow her to die and leave me forever bitter and unresolved.

So far so good.

Dallas you said "ice box!" Dude! You must be older than dirt. :wink: That's what we called it too. Hee.

Thank you for the gift. I have written that there are those here who care about me and put it on the - er - ice box. I will smile when I pass it.

The computer has proven to be a healer to me on more than one occasion. And you guys come in pretty handy since I've become selfish about my real-life time with people. I like being able to drop in here when I have a moment and not have to go in search of an AA friend who may be at work or busy.

Sometime perhaps I'll tell you about a wonderful natural healer who spotted me on a forum and began corresponding with me and how she helped me work out a knotty problem I had with spirituality/religion. It was one of those bizarre moments when someone figures out what you need before you do and starts to feed little hints to you.

There are some awful fine folks in this little box and sometimes they just show up. No wonder it's so addictive!

Mom's having a good day and now I'm off to drive her to the apple orchard that my daughter manages so she can see where her grandchild works.

Thanks, all who read and also all who respond.

Site Admin
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:03 am

Thanks for sharing your experience and insight. When I read it -- it feels like something moving inside me. Healing? Growth? Something. Thank you.

Last edited by Dallas on Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 336
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:54 am

Postby tim-one » Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:56 am

What a wonderful opportunity you had, Anja!

Yeah, I got 4-stepped. I rejected the idea that a child should be treated like that. Selfish HELL! Kids need nurture and the bass-turd didn't gimme.

I was finally convinced that, sure that ain't right, but now I'm an adult and I still haven't grown-up that little kid. Kids are rightly selfish, self-seeking. That's what they do for a living. I expected too much from my dad whether I knew it or not.

Time to grow up, Timmy. (DO NOT call me that now! :x )

I'm still trying to re-claim that poym I'll share with you. My forgiveness thinkin'.

Love ya. You did well for yourself.

Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:42 pm

Postby Anja » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:46 am

Looking forward to the poem.

garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:23 pm

Hi Anja,

Wow, your words are deep and soothing to me.

I have helped people die. I've held them in my arms. I've said "I love you" the last time. Lots of this I did earlier in sobriety. I didn't know what I was doing or why, but I understand today. One of the things that seemed to sprout from some unknown seed, grow into a seedling, and now has become a pretty nice shade tree in my life is this "gift of caring". I don't know where it came from, honestly. God must have put it in my soul without telling me.

I didn't have a relationship with my dad. I still don't. I don't have a resentment, either. At one time it was an empty space, but I'm learning that there are no empty spaces in the world of spirit. So somehow the "dad hole" got filled with something positive.

Today, life has turned into something I never would have imagined it doing. My mom and grand-mom raised me, and I don't think anything they ever did was much of a problem or resentment to me. I remember something different when I remember my childhood.

Once when I was very young, I was real sick. Doctor's back then made "house calls", and apparently this doctor came over and gave me some kind of injection of medicine, and it put me into a coma for about 3 days. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I don't remember going into the coma, but I do remember coming out which was a creepy thing. My mind was wide awake, and I heard the pounding of my heartbeat, except it was at a deafening level. Each time my heart pounded, I saw flashes and bursts of colorful stars and squiggling lines all against a pitch black background. I could hear voices in the house, but they seemed to be ignoring me, and I was trying to call out to my mom, but I couldn't feel anything like trying to move my mouth. These were all just conscious thoughts. I was awake, but not able to participate in being alive.

Then I remembered crying, and then being connected to my own voice. I stopped and just said out loud, I'm hungry, and cried again. Then my mom rushed into the room and it was like that day was the beginning of my life. My mom thought I was going to die.

I was one of those kids that was constantly sick. Then one day I started getting such a bunch of horrible thoughts, and I couldn't stop them. It was like a sudden attack. Those things made me real scared so I hid under my covers and cried.

As life went on, I kept on getting these attacks. I never knew when these things would happen, so the only "abuse" I remembered in childhood was how my mental illness suddenly onset, and it made me afraid every moment of every day. If my family ever abused me I probably woudn't have remembered that because I lived in constant fear, and I was sick all the time. I do know my mom was sympathetic, but she never knew what was wrong - none of the experts in those days new much about mental illness, other than they said what I was having was "probably just nerves". I had "nerve problems".

So I lived my life through what felt like a "bubble" or "barrier". I lived 40 years like that. I just learned how to "manage" and "act" so that I could function. What was inside of me could not get out even though I wanted to. My whole life was like living trapped behind a clear, see-through glass bubble. Sort of how it was like being conscious in that coma. Now I did, over time, get to know folks, and I gathered up resentments, and I got mean and gave them back. You see, mentally ill people can be jerks by making consious choices.

Even when I was studying to become a minister the first time I was sober, I was still "sealed off". I was still behind some kind of barrier, and I couild only communicate bits and pieces of what I was thinking or feeling. I could never seem to connect to anyone in a way that felt like I wasn't trapped in some kind of "jail", and I was talking from behind a thick piece of glass. That was how I lived. That was how I had relationships. That was all I knew since I was 9 years old, and it became "normal" to me, but I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. Not like the "I don't fit in" type of thing. There was something clinically wrong with me, an undiagnosed neurosis, but I was too afraid and too ashamed to figure out what I needed to do to treat it.

Then I got sober again, and something miraculous began to happen. My sponsor and my friends in A.A. obviously could tell something was wrong even though I wasn't drinking. I follwed their advice, and got to thinking on my own "maybe I should talk to a doctor about this". I had one of those "attacks" at my home group, and my first sponsor called me aside and asked me "Are you all right? You're white as a ghost! What's going on?"

Then I just looked at him and said, no I'm not all right. Then I told him about the thoughts I'd been having - the same thing happening to me at 44 that started when I was 9. He sent me home and talked to his sponsors. They said go see a psychologist becase we can't help you with the things you're going through, we don't know what to tell you or what you should do. So my sponsor told me to see a psychologist and call him to let him know what they want me to do.

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I went to professionals, and sure enough they figured out what was different with me. They put me through tests asked me a gazillion questions and tried out a number of different medicine combinations, until finally they got a mix that made me feel like I never, and I mean NEVER, felt before. All this while I was working through the steps which the doctors and sponsors kept encouraging me to do.

I don't know when it happened, just one day I looked at myself in the mirror and I realized that something REALLY changed within me. The right medicine and diagnosos for my mental condition combined with the spiritual awakening that happened as a result of the 12 steps, then I became who I am now.

It was pretty profound for me. Many folks say they feel happy like they were as kids or in childhood. Not me, buddy! I'm so glad I don't feel like I felt in childhood that I could do cartwheels!

The peculiar thing is, really, in sobriety this time around was the first time I ever made the conection in life and to life. It's real to me like it's never been. I never felt "freedom" before because every day I was terrified that my mental condition would blow up in my face, and embarass me in front of everyone. I don't remember what "normal" ever felt like because there never was "normal".

The beautiful thing is that today there is a life here in place (me), in this world, that never was there before. I say it's a "second chance" to do things right, but for me it really is the first time around. Today, I'm the "kid" who is innocent and amazed at some pretty simple stuff. I'm the kid that never was, but I am now - at 51 years old. Seriously, if any of you have a mental illness or disorder that has been properly diagnosed and treated correctly, you know what I'm talking about.

If all I have is today, the next 24 hours, well I'm grateful to no end with that. I never had this before, for a whole 44-45 years I was like the "Nowhere Man" in the Beatles song.

Now I add on to that a spiritual gift, like the one you mentioned Anja, the "gift of caring". Buddy let me tell you what! I am still amazed! I never had the capacity to function in the first place - alcohol in some strange way might have made it worse, or it might not have made a difference. But I know the steps, and this fellowship, and a God of my understanding made a huge difference.

Thanks for helping me today.

Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:42 pm

Postby Anja » Sun Jun 07, 2009 12:11 am


Hope to see some other women here soon. :wink: Until then I'll hang with the folks who are here.

The mental health diagnosis was what was missing for me, too, garden. In fact it was a large factor in my first relapse after eight years of sobriety. (That and the fact that I had had an old bottle of wine for spaghetti sauce stored in the cupboard. The combination of the two is not advisable.)

In those days AA wasn't as enlightened as it is now and I just thought I wasn't working my steps hard enough. My husband and I were going through a separation. I was working too hard and not going to enough AA. I became more and more deeply depressed.

What I didn't know was that I had developed thryroid and parathyroid tumors which were altering my brain chemistry. I didn't seek out medical help until too late because I was afraid they'd prescribe something for the depression which would affect my sobriety.

One night, shortly after my second surgery, a dear friend said some sharp words to me and I grabbed the dusty bottle out and took a swallow without even thinking. Was shocked. Poured it out in the sink and called a friend to come over. But I think the combination of withdrawal from the surgical meds and that sip of wine triggered a full body craving that in combination with the depression was impossible for me to handle.

By the time I was finally diagnosed I was told that I had had permanent brain chemistry changes and would live with clinical depression the rest of my life. It took a while to accept that.

And then later my mood swung wildly in the opposite direction and after years of seeking the right depression (wrong!) medication and the second and nearly fatal relapse I got the rest of the diagnosis, Bipolar. What a difference it's made in my life!

Looking back I think I always had that flavor to my energy level and emotional balance. And heaven knows the groups are jam-crammed with us. Sometimes I wonder if drinking doesn't actually cause mental illness in some of us.

I was so grateful to finally have a diagnosis and a solution that it bothers me very little to have it. It's well-managed and I work on my mental health as hard as I work on my sobriety. The steps work for that too. And support group.

Sometimes I feel sad that it wasn't diagnosed earlier in my life. I watch for that.

But with the appropriate mood stabilizer I have finally been able to utilize all the tools I gathered over the years. And the work has paid off big-time.

Strongly recommend all women to have their thyroids checked periodically. It seems at epidemic levels among women these days. My ignorance of this important piece of health care cost me eight years of sobriety and almost my marriage.

And since you guys are referencing His Majesty and The Beatles I'll end with Dylan.

"I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now" Word.

Smiling at everyone.


Posts: 606
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:03 pm

Postby sunlight » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:02 am

Hi Anja & all,

I'm still here, so don't give up on the girls! I don't begin my new job until next week, so I'm trying to get things done (garden, read, woman through the steps, Founders Day celebration) & take a little vacation time before a new venture. I won't have access to the internet there, so I may only be able to pop in now & then.

Thank you for sharing yourself with us! I appreciate it. When another sober alcoholic shares from the heart, I feel like I've been given admittance to a holy place, and I am in awe and joy at the beauty of sobriety! Even if it doesn't always LOOK beautiful, to me it is because I see spiritual progress.

There is much mental illness in my family. It is so misunderstood! Just like alcoholism. I took a course for families about mental illness which was very useful in being compassionate and helpful to those who suffer. And the bottom line was, just like with our alcoholism, that you can live a happy and productive life if you just take the necessary steps to recover.

Caregiving! My ex-husband, who has almost totally demolished himself through addiction, will be undergoing tests for cancer & MS. I heard myself offering to care for him if he needs me :shock: and he actually said OK. :shock: :shock:
This has to be a loving God working here because, ordinarily, this would not be happening!

Love to you & your mom & to all who read this.

Don't forget to close the icebox! :lol:

Site Admin
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:12 am

I hope that all is working out well for you.

Last edited by Dallas on Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 336
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:54 am

Postby tim-one » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:32 am

Wow, y'all. Thanks. Again, it's all about ME. :oops:

I've had some revelations in the last 5 months (just picked up my 5 month chip yesterday. YEAH, BABY!).

Through some group discussion, I was impressed upon that it's important to be psychiatrically re-evaluated after a few months of sobriety. Many AAers think psych drugs are another crutch. Don't understand.

I have ALWAYS been seriously ADHD. But, when I was a kid, they weren't diagnosing it. I was just the "Stoopid, squirrely" kid in elementary school. Then the "stoopid, goofy, trouble-makin' daydreamer" in high school.

I barely passed every grade with straight D's even though I had an IQ of 145 (whateverthehell that means). So I was always pegged as just not applying myself.

I'd developed some coping skills using the exorbitant energy of hyperactivity to multi-task effectively. Eventual BURNOUT!

I wasn't tested for depression until I'd been drinking heavilly for a time. Burnout turned to severe deppression. Got drugs for Adult ADHD and depression at about 44 years. (56 now)

When I checked into rehab this time, they took away all my meds, expecially my narcotic ADHD stuff. I was bouncing off the walls in lock-up. I couldn't convince them that I REALLY AM ADHD and not just detoxing. They started calling me "Ricochet Rabbit", "PING, ping, PIIIINNNNNNNG". Gotta be a little old to know that one. :lol: But they wouldn't do anything for me.

Anyway, I know I'm ADHD from my childhood history. They said it was too early in detox to give me a full psychographic test. When they "threw me out" of rehab, the doc said, "uh ... we decided you REALLY ARE badly ADHD and we're giving you permission to take that med with care". Oh, thanks!

God and I have decided it's time I get re-psyched now that I'm steadily sober. Haven't done it yet. Gonna soon. I'm still taking stuff for depression with some modification.

I'd learned that it's important to see my regular doctor since he's the one who knows my history best. But NOW, I'm honest with him about being an alcoholic and how much I'd been drinking the whole time. Important thing I "neglected" to tell him every time he asked me how much I drink. DUH!

But most doctors don't know what meds are good or bad for an acloholic or addict. I go to an addictionologist AND a psychiatric addiction-specialist any time my doc prescribes something new for me or comes up aith a new psych diagnosis. This guy replaced some of my meds with non-addictive, non-narcotic, no-dependency meds and adjusted them just for my condition. Working ECXELENTLY!

The other thing he warned me about to be aware of is PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). Accute withdrawal is initial detox and lasts around a month or two. PAWS continues for a couple of years and pops up erratically from time to time. Much like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

It includes severe mood swings appearing to be Bipolar with which I have been diagnosed. Depression - me again. Nightmares, panic attacks, confusion, irritability, other stuff.

So it continues to be difficult to diagnose some things clearly for a long time and one should be re-evaluated occassionally.

In the mean time, the meds work fine for PAWS related things, I've learned to expect they may not work for short spells of relapses.

Don't panic. Relax and pay attention to yourself. Pray it through and stay spiritually fit in those times. Don't do the alcoholic thing and try to adjust your meds without professional consultation. TALK ABOUT IT!

My point is, if I know I had it as a kid and during my sober periods, it's probly right. If I was diagnosed in my drinking, question it. Get re-checked occassionally as my moods, general frame of mind change. I expect my attitude to change due to sobriety and working my program with God.

I reckon I'll need to adjust things in the future. Last forever? Who knows at the moment. Maybe, maybe not. Just pay attention to myself constantly.

Love y'all. God's best for ya.

PS: Yeah, you girls need to be here. Guys and gals are each only half of God's image. We need each other's perspectives for the whole picture. Thanks for your female-type-person thinkin'.

Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:42 pm

Postby Anja » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:46 pm

Hi, Sunshine and All!

Glad to see a woman speaking. Sounds like you are going through a lot of stressful stuff right now. Hope to see you and others often as you can be here.

I've been from here to there and back again with the idea that women's recoveries can be different than for men. Too controversial to argue it one way or another. And, ultimately not important for continued sobriety. But certain issues - caretaking, for instance - certainly do come to mind.

tim, you make a good case for learning to be our own best health care advocate. Something I've needed to learn, for sure.

In retrospect, all through my Thirties, I was in a hypomanic phase and didn't know it. Was getting my Master's, worked two part-time jobs and raising two young children. And more. (Hypomanic, for thosed who don't know is manic, but not at the clinical and totally dysfunctional lever of full-blown mania.)

When I hit the clinical phase of depression for the first time I thought that I had burned myself out with all my hard work and service to others. One of the ways I've benefitted from the diagnosis of Bipolar is being able to reframe that period of time in terms of health rather than in excessive behavior on my part.

This has been beneficial - learning to take it a little easier on myself. Because the way I viewed that period of my life was that I gave myself away and now there was nothing left over for me. Resentments!

Now I realize that I was running off my mental dis-ease during those Supermom years.

It also was a more forgiving way to view my sudden and violent outbursts. Remember in one marriage counseling session being told by the therapist she didn't know if she could work with me because I was so unpredictably angry. And the same in treatments.

I kept wondering where all the anger was coming from and dilligently trying to free myself of it. My life was actually pretty good. So why was I so angry?

It was good to find out that those unexpected explosions could be part of my Bipolar Disorder.

Return to “12 Step Addiction Recovery Stories”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest